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The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, said here Wednesday that his country has no intention of raising its visa fees to 3,000 pounds (about 750,000 naira) for some categories of travellers to the United Kingdom, as being speculated.
The British envoy said on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), shortly after ringing the bell to signifies end of trading, that the proposed 3,000 pounds was a bond to prevent those who wish to stay beyond their visa limit.
He emphasised: ‘Firstly, it is not a visa fee, no Nigerian will ever be ask to pay 3,000 pounds for a British visa, so it is nothing to do with that. Secondly, it is not a policy yet because it has not been decided and if it is decided, it will apply to only a very tiny fraction of the 150,000 Nigerians who applied for a British visa every year.
‘So if it becomes British policy, the effect will be very limited and the 125,000 Nigerians who visit the United Kingdom legally every year will see only a tiny fraction impacted by this.’
He was responding to an appeal by the Doyen of Stock Brokers, Mr. Sam Ndata, to make the British Visa more flexible for members who wish to travel to the Britain for business, against the background of the proposed Visa Bond the British Government intends to introduce.
Many Nigerians and other African countries, particularly the Commonwealth members, have critisised the proposed Visa Bond.
Some analysts have also seen the plan as yet another indication of the shift in British Concentric Foreign Policy which now gives more priority to the European Union (EU) than the Commonwealth nations.
On the capital market, the High Commissioner said the United Kingdom was involved not only on the Nigerian capital market but also in trade and other forms of commercial activities, stressing the need for the economic bilateral relations to be deepened.
He said: ‘For many many years, we see Nigeria as a country with great economic potential not only in extractive industries but also in manufacturing and there are British manufacturers here.
‘My jobs here is to invite British companies of all sizes to come down here, have another look at the Nigerian market and make up their minds whether they can trade and invest here on the basis of what they see not just what they read in the Newspapers or hear in the media.’
Speaking earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of the NSE, Oscar Onyema, said even though there are a number of British companies listed on the exchange, he would want more foreign investors to come into the market.